Category Archives: YP and Local Search

Intelligent Chat Bots and a Look Back At Canada’s First

Chat Bots are back, good bots anyway and have started to gain some traction in the marketplace with more and more people speaking about the business implications. With Facebook’s announcement at F8 the spotlight has risen and over the course of the next year I am sure we will see lots of activity in this space.

The full list of FB 2016 Messenger Partners shows an interesting mix of use cases. I believe the applications that offer commerce and/or customer service elements are actually the most useful. The news based feeds are interesting and important for publishers to test out as another means to get in front of eyeballs but if they don’t add anymore value than simply a feed of content – not sure this will be as useful.

If you look at the list of Bots available on the Kik Platform, I think there are some interesting applications. For example, Wirkin to find a job, H&M for clothing inspiration, and of course the Weather Channel (because we need more ways to know the forecast).

Another interest space to watch is the Bot Platforms that allows you to build and host bots to integrate with the various end-user applications. For example, Meya.io is a platform player based in Waterloo, Ontario who is doing some interesting work on creating a platform for any company to quickly deploy bots for a variety of use cases. Another interesting platform is Pandorabots who are really helping businesses open up a new way to communicate with their customers.

An exciting space for sure. To the title of my post, back in 2006, I was involved in a product to launch Canada’s first MSN Message Bot for finding location. Yellow Pages Group partnered with a company called Illumicell (which became Poynt) who had a partnership with Microsoft and we launched YellowBuddy in 2006. It was a very interesting use case for us to understand how many people would use a Messenger platform in order to retrieve local information. We had a future plan of eventually being able to book, buy and deliver but our ambitions at the time where larger than the market was ready.

I think we where a little too far ahead of the curve. The big game changer today is smartphones and mobile adoption. For those of you interesting, I have including some screenshots below of the original application. If you want to see all the screenshots, click on MORE tab. Hope you enjoy a little walk down history.

Screen Shot 2016-04-22 at 11.31.51 AM

Screen Shot 2016-04-22 at 11.33.59 AM

Continue reading

Google Premium SMB Partner in Canada and my LifeinYellow.ca Guest Blog Post on Partnerships

2013 has been a great start for YPG again and my role as head of business development. We closed off 2012 with a landmark deal with Yahoo to power their local search, “[FIRST LOOK] Yahoo! Canada Integrates YellowAPI.com for Local Search” and have started off 2013 expanding that relationship along with a number of new deals that are at various stages of completion.

One such deal is our recent announcement to become Canada’s largest Premium SMB Partner of Google in Canada. We are now the only partner of Google who services businesses in every province in Canada and in both official languages which is pretty cool. You can read the official press release, “Yellow Pages Group Selected by Google as an AdWords Premier Partner for Small Businesses“.

As part of this announcement I have done a guest post on LifeInYellow.ca titled; Investing in Partnerships That Benefit Our Small Business Clients. In this post I talk about the importance of a robust partner eco-system to ensure that we get SMB information in front of as many consumers as possible.

Click on the link about or the image below to read my latest post.

The YPG Canada partner eco-system to ensure that Canadian SMB's get as much exposure to consumers as possible.

The YPG Canada partner eco-system to ensure that Canadian SMB’s get as much exposure to consumers as possible.

The Eco-System of YellowPages.ca Business Data in Canada

Two questions:

How important is it for a local business to ensure that its basic listing data (name, phone number and address) is included in the YellowPages.ca database?

How important is it for a local business to ensure that its enhanced content (hours of operations, products, services, etc) are also included in the YellowPages.ca database?

Ultimately the above questions boil down to, “what’s in in for the SMB”. To help answer this, I have created the following eco-system slide that shows how/who the data from yellowpages.ca gets distributed across the consumer eco-system in Canada. NOTE: This is a representative sample of partnerships of companies that use portions or all of the yellowpages.ca database to offer a local connection to its audience.

For an SMB this boils down to two main reasons why this is important:

1) Time Saving – by having a central distribution of basic + enhanced listing data a SMB does not have to spend time to manage their data in multiple locations.

2) Consistency of Information – having the same information appear in a consistent manner across this eco-system allows a SMB to manage and control their message in a more manageable way.

If it is true that the users will continue to splinter into more consumer platforms it will become more and more critical for a centralized hub that can distribute that information.

In Canada, YellowPages.ca is a very important hub for the SMB market.

What do you think?

It’s Time for Canadian SMBs to Think Mobile

Over the past few years I have blogged often about news in the Canadian Space regarding mobile. Up until this point in time, I never stated explicitly that mobile was a necessity for SMBs in Canada but, we are at the tipping point in Canada of mobile usage (especially SmartPhone usage) and it is now very important for SMBs to start thinking mobile and most importantly make sure their content is mobile friendly.

What is mobile friendly content from a SMB? In a nutshell, it is when you can view your content on a mobile device (Apple iPhone, Blackberry, Android, etc.) in a native format by which the user does not have to zoom or pinch the screen (for all your iPhone users). For this example, I am going to use my personal Dentist, Optimum Dentistry in Marda Loop to demonstrate the difference between Mobile Enhanced Content and Rendering on a Mobile Phone.

This is Rendering on a iPhone (and is not mobile enhanced content):

Home Page:
Optimum Dentistry Not Mobile Enhanced Home Page

Hours of Operations Page:
Optimum Dentistry Not Mobile Enhanced Hours of Operation Page

This is Mobile Enhanced Content:

Home Page:
Optimum Dentistry Mobile Enhanced Home Page

Hours of Operations Page:
Optimum Dentistry Mobile Enhanced Hours of Operations Page

As a user – which one your you prefer to land on?

Mobile enhanced content basically means rendering for the native device in which the user is viewing, which really means that your website designer need to put some specific code on your website that detects the users device and serves up content formatted for that device.

Normally, mobile sites will consist of less content than website. Keep in simple – a) what you do, b) hours of operations, c) map and driving directions (you can usually use the native device for this), d) what you sell. Keep all the enhanced content, flash, massive photo galleris and in some cases if you have advanced forms or e-commerce off you mobile site; devices are too small and in mobile, LESS = MORE.

To recap:

1) If you don’t own a iPhone or Blackberry, find somebody who does and type in your website URL on the phone’s browser
2) If your site looks like the first example above, it is not mobile enhanced, call your web designer and if he/she can’t help, fire them and find somebody else
3) If your site looks like the second example above, then you are good to go

What About Mobile Marketing in Canada?

Well this is where it gets very easy. There are really 2 key places that you need to be concerned about when it comes to mobile marketing in Canada. Google and YellowPages.ca. NOTE: if you are a client of YellowPages.ca, all your business listing information gets syndicated to Google (as well as MSN and Yahoo). If you want a quick snapshot of syndication in Canada, check out an old blog post titled – Directory Assistance in Canada – Paid and Free DA – Facts Every Consumer and Small Business Owner Should Know.

Both Google and YellowPages.ca are completely mobile enhanced web properties. See examples below for looking at data on Ramanda Hotel and Suites in Vancouver.

Google:
Ramada Inn and Suites in Vancouver on Google Mobile

To learn more about Google Mobile click here.

YellowPages.ca:
Ramada Inn and Suites in Vancouver on YellowPages.ca Mobile
Ramada Inn and Suites in Vancouver on YellowPages.ca Mobile

To learn more about YellowPages.ca Mobile click here.

The above are mobile web. In the application space, Google does not disclose its download numbers, but YellowPages.ca has now been downloaded over 1.8M times, which by all accounts makes it the most downloaded local application in Canada. At this point, any content that you have on YellowPages.ca is automatically ported over to YellowPages.ca Mobile + YellowPages.ca Mobile Applications, so SMBs are getting growing coverage.

In March of this year, I posted the following blog post which shows you some screenshots of the iPhone application by YellowPages.ca – New YellowPages.ca Mobile Application Available. In June, I followed up with the following post introducing the iPad application for YellowPages.ca – First Look – YellowPages.ca iPad Application which managed to become #1 within 24-hours of its launch and has consistently stayed in the top 50 downloaded applications.

Screenshot of iPad Application Search Results:
iPad Application Search Results for Calgary

Enhanced SMB Content on the iPad:
iPad Application Enhanced Business Content

Lastly, back in April I did a comparison of the top mobile applications in Canada, from a SMB perspective – the voting is still open if you want to vote for your favorite mobile interface, please do so.

In Conclusion …. 3 Tips for Canadian SMBs on Mobile Thinking

1) Make sure your content is mobile enhanced on your website URL (talk to your web design company)

2) Make sure your content is distributed in YellowPages.ca and Google (this will give you the majority of coverage and at this point is included in both offerings, no need to pay extra)

3) In your analytics, track the number of mobile views (you will probably be surprised at the increasing number of your customers who are accessing your basic business data via mobile).

Overtime as the mobile space heats up, this simplified strategy will change, but for now, keep it simple, prep your content and start to monitor usage.

Yellow Pages Group is Canada’s Largest Canadian Internet Company! Is It True? Yes, Here’s Why [Part 1]

Full disclosure; I am the head of business development for Yellow Pages Group in Canada, check out my LinkedIn profile. What I will share with you below is public information that I felt was time to compile into one post. With the recent announcement of the SMB Targeted Campaign by YPG and with prominant bloggers like Greg Sterling posting, “YPG Aims New Brand Campaign at SMBs” the question will be raised – is it true? Is Yellow Pages Group Canada really the largest Canadian Internet company?

I get asked a lot about YPG in networking events, from former colleagues and friends as to what exactly is YPG doing in the online space. Many people wrongly assume that we simply print books and that we are irrelevant to SMBs when it comes to the web. When explained to them how active YPG is online, what properties we own, and our mission to put our advertisers in the “path of ready to buy consumers”, they usually start to see the full picture of how RELEVANT YPG actually is in the Canadian Internet Landscape and why I am as passionate as I am about this business.

To start with, here is the print ad that is running across the country and here is a link to the Radio Ads:

Yellow Pages Group - Let Us ReIntroduce Ourselves as Canada's Largest Internet Company

I will break this post into the following 3 parts to explain the rationale regarding this claim of Canada’s Largest Internet Company:

1) Reach
2) Content
3) Revenue

#1) Let’s Talk Reach and Distribution

When I talk reach, I like to use a third party company to measure relative reach. Therefore, below I will use ComScore Media Metrix as the benchmark to speak about reach. There are other methods to track reach, a) internal logs, b) alexa, c) compete, etc. but in the Canadian Media Landscape – Comscore is still a standard when it comes to companies making decisions about spending on digital ad budgets as well as completely independent, therefore I use them as the benchmark.

Let’s start by looking at the September 2010 ComScore Numbers for the top 20 Properties used by Canadians. Here is the list:

September 2010 ComScore Top 20 Web Properties in Canada

If you re-sort this list based to only Canadian Owned Companies, or majority owned by Canadians, the top 20 list breaks down to only 6 companies.

#1) Yellow Pages Group
#2) Sympatico.ca Property
#3) Canoe Network
#4) CTVglobemedia
#5) Postmedia Network (formerly, CanWest Interactive)
#6) The Weather Network Meteomedia

Based on this metric, it is clear that YPG is in fact Canada’s largest Canadian Owned Internet company.

One important aspect of the YPG network is its unique position of “ready to buy consumers” who have location intentions. The portfolio of properties that makes up Yellow Pages Group (see below) are a collection of sites that have intention to buy as a common element. This is a powerful as other leading web properties are focused on or have elements of research, education or entertainment. The leading search engine, Google, reports that 20% of their queries are location based as an example of how even major search engines are only partially used for the purposes of local.

In terms of the buying funnel it is very accurate to say that YPG Users are closer to the buying decision, which makes them highly qualified leads. If you disagree with this, I would like to hear your opinion why?

Here is a sample of the sites that make up the Yellow Pages Group network:

YellowPages.ca & PagesJaunes.ca
Canada411.ca
RedFlagDeals.com
Restaurantica.com
SuperPages.ca
AutoTrader.ca & AutoHebdo.net
LesPac.com
BuySell.com
HomeTrader.ca
CanPages.ca
ZipLocal.ca

On the Social Front – earlier this year I did a post on How Social is Yellow Pages Group in Canada – if you are interested, check out to see how active we are in Social Media.

On the distribution front, YPG is one of Canada’s most active companies that continually looks to distribute its content + its advertisers content throughout the web eco-system. Let’s take a look at some examples:

Search Engines – YPG listing data is distributed to Google, Yahoo and MSN. If your business is listed on YellowPages.ca, it will be listed on all major search engines in Canada. See attribution at the bottom of this sample from Google.

Google Maps Showing YellowPages.ca Attribution

YellowPages.ca Attribution on Google Maps

Major Portals – YellowPages.ca is integrated on all of Canada’s major portals, MSN, Sympatico, Yahoo, AOL, PostMedia Network, The Weather Network to name a few. Here are some example of doing a search for DENTISTS-TORONTO:

MSN – Dentists in Toronto
Yahoo – Dentists in Toronto
Sympatico – Dentists in Toronto
AOL – Dentists in Toronto
The Weather Network – Dentists in Toronto

PostMedia Including Sites Such as:
Canada.com – Dentists in Canada
Montreal Gazette – Dentists in Montreal
Calgary Herald – Dentists in Calgary
Vancouver Sun – Dentists in Vancouver
Edmonton Journal – Dentists in Edmonton
Ottawa Citizen – Dentists in Ottawa

Telcos – Distribution through major Telco websites including Bell.ca, MyTelus.com, MTS through MyWinnipeg.com, Bell Aliant, NorthernTel, TBay Tel.

At the end of September, YPG and Telus announced a first of its kind relationship in Canada to preload the YellowPages Mobile Application on Telus Blackberries.

Other VerticalsPraized Media, FindItInCanada, WhitePages Network, DuProPrio.com, ByTheOwner.com, Lozzal

Developer Community

Last month, YPG released an Open API called YellowAPI.com to the Development Community, read the press release here.

YellowAPI.com – The Yellow API allows ANYONE to build their own applications and mashups by providing dynamic local business data. We supply you the tools to encourage innovation and expand your audience reach to 33 million people. Read more about our data and opportunities in the Overview.

Mobile

In June, YPG debuted its iPad Application (see my post when this was the #1 app in iTunes) and according to the press release was approaching 1 Million Downloads of its mobile applications. As of today, this number is well over 1 Million.

Think about this for a second.

Over 1 Million Downloads of applications, for a 100% pure Canadian application that is not a game. There are many great Canadians Applications for SmartPhones, TheWeatherNetwork, GlobeandMail, Sportnet, etc. which all are incredible in their vertical, but YPG is the only one focused solely on connecting local buyers and consumers – that is pretty cool.

In terms of mobile development YPG Canada is also a leader, releasing a specific version for each major platform used by Canadians. Check out more at Yellow Pages Mobile.

Yellow Pages Group's Mobile Application for Major Mobile Platforms

Although there is no 3rd party that benchmarks applications, I can tell you personally that I have talked with many of the major players in Canada and the US and at over 1M downloads, YPG is not only a leader in Canada (all agree that we likely #1) but would be a leading application down south as well. When it comes to local mobile applications, there is little doubt that YPG would be #1.

So What Does This Mean For a Small Business

If your business relies on directive advertising as a source of leads, YPG still drives a significant number of leads. In my upcoming post on revenue and the SMB portfolio, I will explain how YPG has embraced other sources of lead management for SMBs, namely Search Engines, to continue to drive its mission of connecting buyers and sellers.

In the interim, I suggest you take a look at the following posts, some of these are a couple of years old but still very relevant for Small Business Owners.

Directive vs. Creative Advertising

Reverse Engineers the Local Media Mix – Who Gets Credit for the Sale

Why Really Smart Advertisers Look Beyond the Big Shiny Numbers

Hits, Page Views and Unique Visitors – Which Metric Should I Use?

What Do You Think of Part 1?

Real Estate and Local Search – A Good Combo – Some Canadian Examples

My last post taked about Weather and Local Search and how we completed an integration with The Weather Network and Yellow Pages Group. If you are interested in integrating local search powered by YellowPages.ca in your Canadian property; at the bottom of this post I have connection points – I would be happy to discuss options with you.

For this post I wanted to focus on a couple of integrations on Real Estate websites and Local Search. Both of these categories are completely complimentary and when you combine local search to a real estate offering you provide a more complete user experience.

Integration Example #1 – HomeTrader.ca

About Home Trader (from their website) – homeTRADER.ca – Canada’s Real Estate Search Engine – It’s a one-stop destination with listings and information on homes for sales, apartments for rent, house rentals, condos for sale across Canada.

Here is a quick walking tour of their site:

Home Page (from the home page, it will default you to your IP location, or you can simply enter your location – here is an example of Toronto)

homeTrader.ca Home Page With Toronto Map

From the home page I selected downtown Toronto and as you can see it will plot all the locations that are available:

Downtown Toronto Rentals Available on homeTrader.ca

When you click on a particular location it will provide you with pop-up summary of the location and give you the option to find more details on the property. I decided to click on a rental property on Nelson Street.

Downtown Toronto Rental Property

Once you click on the property that you are interesting in finding more details, you have the option of plotting around you some popular local categories (powered by YellowPages.ca). I clicked on a bank icon to see what banks are around this particular location:

Local Search by YellowPages.ca integrated on homeTrader.ca

The following popular categories you can find around any location on homeTrader.ca – Grocers, Shopping Centres, Schools, Churches, Restaurants, Gas Stations, Clinics, Childcare and Banks.

These are all extremely popular urban market categories that anybody is looking for when moving to a new location in a city. Since each category is toggle on/off makes it very easy for any user to find exactly what is important to them.

Integration Example #2 – ByTheOwner.ca and DuProPrio.com

About ByTheOwner – from their website – Our mission is to give consumers a complete real estate service through the Internet so they can sell, buy or rent a property privately, without an agent and with no commission. Together, ByTheOwner and its French counterpart DuProprio constitute the largest and most visited For Sale By Owner network in Canada.

Home Page – starting with the home page you are presented with a number of hot properties that are available as well as a number of search functions.

ByTheOwner Home Page with For Sale By Owner Properties

If you select a property – you end up going to the properties detail page. On the detail page you are presented with all the details on the property.

ByTheOwner Details of a Property

Notice at the bottom of the property you are presented with a local search area (powered by YellowPages.ca) that gives a potential new home owner with access to popular search categories and the ability to conduct a local search.

YellowPages.ca Search Area on ByTheOwner.com

One very nice feature with this implementation is that all the one-click categories are pre-populated based on the location of the address in which you are looking at. The user does not have to think about whether the search is locally relevant or not, all searches are automatically targeted to the properties location – very cool.

From the example above on homeTrader.ca, which is more targeted towards condos, apartments and rentals on ByTheOwner, the categories are move geared towards home owners. Categories such as; Insurance, Banks, Loans, Mortgages, Inspections, Appraisers, Movers, Storage, Lawyers, Building Contractors

This integration is also part of DuProPrio.com, the french language counterpart to the ByTheOwner.com.

YellowPages.ca Search on DuProPrio.com


So what do you think about the following integrations – is this something that is useful for end users? If you are interested in integrating Canadian local search, powered by YellowPages.ca, in your properties, please feel free to contact me via my LinkedIn.com profile or my Twitter account and I will provide you with my work email address and one of my business development team will connect with you regarding integration options.